[Daily Times 13 November 2019] An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Tuesday formally charged Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and others in a case concerning the violent protests initiated by TLP following a Supreme Court verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi last year.

ATC-I judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta announced the charges brought against the religio-political leaders. Strict security arrangements had been made for the proceedings.

A total of 26 suspects – including Rizvi and TLP patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri – were issued copies of the challan. Some of the suspects appeared in court on Tuesday along with counsels Tahir Minhas and Nasir Minhas.

Additionally, the ATC issued summonses for the witnesses for the next hearing, which will be held today (Wednesday).

Violent protests had erupted in different parts of the country soon after the Supreme Court’s verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi was announced, as activists of TLP and other religious parties took to the streets and blocked major roads and intersections through sit-ins and by putting up barricades.

The case against the accused had been registered at the Civil Lines Police Station in Lahore on charges of sedition and terrorism for delivering anti-state speeches and inciting violence during the three-day protests against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal.

The FIR against the accused referenced sections 290, 291, 353, 427, 186 and 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Section 6 of the Sound System Punjab Ordinance, 2015 and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 The initial protest was disbanded after the government provided assurances. Rizvi was taken into protective custody by police on November 23, 2018 amidst a massive crackdown on TLP workers. The crackdown had come two days before the TLP said it would resume its protest against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal.